From The Constitution, Wednesday, December 10, 1862 (volume 26, number 1302)
There has been very little news from our armies during the past week. The army of the Potomac has not yet moved, and affairs there appear to remain about as they were. Reports are that there is no probability of the army’s going into winter quarters, and that we may expect stirring news soon.
Gen. Bank’s expedition sailed from New York on Thursday.
A dispatch dated Cincinnati, Dec. 3, states that Gen. Rosecrans has made a forward movement toward Murfreesboro, and as the enemy have made a stand there, an engagement during the week is expected. The national army has advanced with limited transportation and ten days’ rations.
The whole number of deaths at Hilton Head and Key West from yellow fever during the season was 95.
There are now eleven thousand Massachusetts troops at Newbern, N. C., and regiments are constantly arriving.
One of the largest boilers in the rubber factory at Newtown, blew up, Nov. 22, carrying away one end of the factory. It being Saturday afternoon, several that were employed in the part of the factory that was demolished, had gone home.
An old woman lately died in the streets of London who was the claimant and probable heir of an estate worth seventeen millions of dollars. She had on neither shoes or stockings.
Some of the women of Detroit have got quite in the habit of going over to Windsor, Canada, to do their shopping, placing their purchases under their crinoline and returning with them free of duty.
The President’s Message
A more evidently sincere, earnest and patriotic Message never emanated from the President of the United States than this of President Lincoln. He has here given utterance to the honest convictions of his soul—convictions which have been matured and settled by the extraordinary events and vast responsibilities of the last year and a half. Sensible of the accumulated difficulties which must attend the course he has adopted, he grapples those difficulties with a modest boldness, which is the best assurance of final success. His message is in some respects very different from what was anticipated by most of his friends, and it is certainly a disappointment to his enemies. He has risen out of the reach of all partizan motives. He speaks here neither as a republican nor a democrat, but as President of the United States, responsible for the vast trusts which have been placed in his hands. Whatever difference of opinion there may be with regard to the distinct policy announced in the message, this document must increase the general confidence in the sincere determination of the President to meet manfully and resolutely the extraordinary crisis through which the country is passing.
The greater part of the message is devoted to the discussion of the emancipation question. It is somewhat remarkable that the President scarcely alludes to his Proclamation of September 22d, but discusses at length the subject of gradual emancipation. It was not necessary that he should allude to the Proclamation, but it was necessary that some settled policy should be arrived at with regard to the abolition of slavery itself and the disposition of the hosts of negroes who will be made free. The key of the whole of the President’s reasoning is that the Union cannot exist with slavery. If the institution be suffered to thrive, the republic is inevitably doomed. It is impossible to come to any compromise with the slave power. Compromises have ceased to have force. They have been tried and failed. Their day is passed. No alternative remained but to resist boldly the further encroachments of slavery. These were resisted ; and the slave oligarchs have taken up arms to obtain by the sword what they could not secure by an appeal to the ballot box. In this conflict the issue is a simple one—it is between slavery and the republic. One or the other must fall. This is the President’s view of the subject, and is the basis of his reasoning and his recommendations. He utters the general sentiment of the country. The conviction is widespread, and is becoming stronger every day, that the institution must by some means be got rid of, and the question is how is this to be accomplished with the least possible loss and injustice to the slave states ?
President Lincoln favors gradual compensated emancipation, and proposes an amendment to the constitution in order to carry out this plan. The subject will engage the attention of Congress and will be fully discussed this session. It is very probable that it will meet with its approbation, and that the requisite vote of two-thirds may be obtained in order to submit the amendment to the people. The President still urges the deportation of liberated negroes. He has always favored the colonization of the African race, believing as he does that the two races cannot live together to mutual advantage. Many will differ from him in this opinion, holding that when slavery is abolished in the southern states, the blacks will not be found too numerous to supply the demand which will then be made for labor.
Other points of the message will engage attention. Our relations with foreign powers are in a favorable condition. The closing appeal to Congress is truthful, fervid and eloquent. The message is published entire in our columns this week. It should receive a careful perusal.
The Proposed Navy Yard.
The Secretary of the Navy has in his report very unexpectedly declared that in his opinion League Island should be selected as the site of the new navy yard. We do not know that it was anticipated that he would favor the selection of New London simply because he was himself from Connecticut. It was not to be forgotten that he was acting for the United States and not for his own State alone, and that the responsibilities of his position should exclude all favoritism which should be to the damage of the general interests. But Mr. Welles was known to be well acquainted with the resources and advantages of Connecticut, and to have a personal knowledge of the capacities of New London harbor, and this fact of itself seemed sufficient to assure the public that he would throw the weight of his official influence in favor of his own State. In addition to this, a commission consisting of six naval gentlemen appointed by the Secretary of the Navy to make a careful examination of the different sites proposed, had, after such examination, made a report in favor of New London as on the whole combining the greatest advantages for the new navy yard. It is therefore the more remarkable that in the face of this report, the Secretary should argue against New London and for League Island.
Secretary Welles admits that if it is intended to have another navy yard similar to those now in operation, New London possesses great advantages. But he says the Government needs a yard for iron clads, and the two special advantages of League Island for iron clad ships are (1) greater security and (2) fresh water. League Island being inland, he thinks can be better defended than New London. In this opinion Connecticut men will not concur. No harbor in the world is capable of stronger defenses than New London. It may be made absolutely impregnable. Has it been forgotten that before any adequate defences were erected such as now exist, Commodore Decatur found New London harbor a sufficient protection for his fleet against the superior force of the British ? Let the great natural facilities for defensive operations which exist be improved by al the arts of modern engineering, and New London may be made a Gibraltar for strength, and may defy all the navies of the world.
As to the necessity of having fresh water for iron ships, we do not believe that that necessity will very long exist. Salt water will corrode iron, it is true. But it is also true that if iron is to be permanently used for ships which are to navigate the ocean, it must be so coated that it will not be injured by the action of salt water. The building of these ships has just commenced, and great improvements will be made in their construction and in the quality of the material used. To locate a navy yard inland, at a great distance from the sea and surrounded with many inconveniences, in order to escape a difficulty which will probably be but temporary, does not look like wisdom. But supposing fresh water to be an absolute necessity, there is plenty of it in the Thames river, which iron clads of the largest size may ascend for ten or twelve miles, and lie there when not required for service.
If these objections are all that the Secretary has to urge against the selection of New London, the people of his own State will fail to see any good reason for the extraordinary position he has taken. New England has always been willing to make sacrifices for the common good, but here is seen no necessity for a sacrifice. In a matter so important as the location of a national navy yard, we would submit to the selection of any other site if it was apparent that the public interests required it. But in a case so evident as this to the common apprehension, and where we have in our favor the verdict of a commission of naval gentlemen, we have no disposition to submit quietly to a deprivation of those advantages which are to result from the location of a naval depot such as is proposed. The people of this State should be alive to this subject. It is of vast importance.
Middle Haddam.—We learn with regret of the death of Charles W. B. Hurd, of Middle Haddam, of Co. B, 9th regiment N. Y. S. M. He was wounded while performing his duty bravely at the battle of Antietam, and was brought home, where he lingered until Friday last. This makes two young men from that village, who have died from wounds received in that battle.
Oliver Avery, also from Middle Haddam, a member of Co. K, 14th Conn. regiment, died in hospital at Washington a few days since.
Discharged.—Lieut. George W. Calef, formerly of this city, now hailing from East Hampton (Chatham) has been honorably discharged from service on account of sickness contracted while he was a prisoner in the hands of the rebels for fifteen months after the battle of Bull Run. He belonged to the 11th Massachusetts regiment.
At the Democratic Supper, Thursday evening, at the Farmers and Mechanics Hotel, a correspondent of the Hartford Times writing from this city says there were a number of conservative men present. There ought to have been at least five there, to save the rest. According to the Times, the prominent feature of the evening was a short speech from Mr. A. G. Lucas. It may be doubtful whether this is to be taken as a compliment to Mr. Lucas or a libel on the party.
LETTER FROM THE 1ST CONN. ARTILLERY.
Camp near Fredericksburg, Va.
Dec. 5th, 1862.
Friend Newton : Here we are with a prospect of a stormy night and we have nothing to cover ourselves with except our Shelter Tents. Night before last orders came for two companies of our regiment (the 1st Conn. Artillery) to be in readiness to march at 8 o’clock in the morning ; so according to orders Col. Tyler detailed companies B. and K. ; but they being short of men 14 of our company (H) and 16 of G were detailed to go with them and I happened to be one of the lucky ones. We had a very pleasant sail down the Potomac to Acquia Creek, from there we took cars for Falmouth and we are now camped opposite the Doomed City.
You can judge of our surprise when the order came for us to move for our regiment is doing garrison duty in six different forts about Washington, and we thought we were all “hunk” for this winter, but we know not what a day may bring forth in the army. But we are only detached for a short time. It is now snowing quite hard and if our friends at home could only see what kind of beds we have to rest our weary limbs on they would weep for the poor Soger Boy. But we care not for hardships and privations, for we are enlisted in the cause of our beloved country and we expect to take it as it comes. Perhaps the people at the north think they know all about a soldier’s life, but they don’t know anything about it. They think they have seen all that a soldier has to do, but when troops get into active service they find it quite different from what it was when they encamped in their native State; for when they get into the field they have to take the shovels and picks and go to work in every sense of the word, and live on whatever they can get, (that is when they are in the advance.) I have seen the time when I would give 50cts. for one hard bread which is about the size of a soda cracker and made of Plaster of Paris and a poor quality of flour without salt.
The detail from our company is under the command of George L. Fox, a son of Mr. George W. Fox, of Middletown. He is a brick and understands his business. Perhaps before this reaches you we shall be shelling the town of Fredericksburg, and who knows but what I shall be numbered among the dead. But if I am I intend to die at my post. More if I live.
Family Meeting.—There was a meeting of the “Tryon family” in this city last week. The sessions were held at the hall of the Douglas House. Quite a large number of the members of the family were present, and many of them were surprized at the unlooked for number of cousins of various degrees who turned up on the occasion. The object of the gathering was not particularly to cultivate each others acquaintance and exchange fraternal and cousinly greetings, but it was for business purposes, and especially to assert the rights and maintain the claims of the family to a certain large estate said to be awaiting an owner. This estate is in the Chancery Court of England, a very safe place for a property to be in and a very hard place to get anything out of. Some of the Tryons are very confident the money can be got at, and that they shall finally succeed in bringing over a quarter of a million, more or less, and distribute it among the expectant heirs on this side of the water. Perhaps they will. When they do, we shall be happy to announce the fact. One or two visits have been made to headquarters, and favorable progress reported. No definite action was taken at the meeting last week. There was a good deal of talking, and there was not perfect agreement about what ought and what ought not to be done. It was a noticeable fact that the female members of the family appeared to be by far the most numerous. Continued efforts will be made to secure the property, and if those efforts are not successful it will not be for want of perseverance on the part of the Tryons of Connecticut.
A Free Lecture will be delivered on Sunday evening, at 7 1/2 o’clock, at McDonough Hall, by H. Young, the Boy Lecturer. Subject, “Intemperance, with Songs.” Of course there will be a full house on the occasion, as it will be very interesting. There will be a collection to defray expenses. Certainly we shall deal fairly by the little fellow. Do not forget Sunday evening.
Winter Weather.—For many years we have not had so cold weather and so much snow in the early part of December. Usually snow commences to fall between Christmas and New Years, and we rarely have sleighing much before the first of January. This year we had a fall of snow of about three inches on the 7th of November, which remained on the ground two or three days and furnished about half a day’s sleighing. On Friday and Friday night of last week snow fell to the depth of six inches. The temperature, which had been mild, changed to very cold. On Saturday morning the mercury stood at 16 degrees, on Sunday morning at 10 degrees, and on Monday morning and this morning at four degrees ! The sleighing is good. We notice the storm on Friday was quite extensive. Snow fell in Washington all that day.
Sidewalks.—Now that snow and ice have come, care should be taken to clear off the sidewalks. Many of the walks are now very unsafe, and unless there is an improvement in their condition, locomotion for the winter will have to be conducted on corks or skates. It is difficult to remove the ice in many places, but it is rather necessary it should be done where it can be done, even if it costs something. In places where it cannot be removed, sand or ashes should be sprinkled liberally. We hope greater attention will be paid to this matter this winter than was given it last winter, when some of our principal sidewalks were in a deplorable condition from Christmas until March. It will cost a little time. It may cost a little money, but it pays.
Something the Matter.—We owe an apology to our readers for not reporting more births under the proper head, as having taken place in this town, than have been given for a month past. The fact is, we have not discovered that there were any. Whose fault it is we do not know. We certainly do not feel responsible. There has been the usual number of marriages, and of departures from the world, but we have not discovered that any have entered the world in this place for about four weeks. Whether it is on account of the tax law, or whether the youths are treated like Moses in the bulrushes, or whether it is the war or something else, we will not undertake to say. We hope there will be an improvement in this department of news, for these facts are interesting to the present generation and very important to the next.
P. S. We are happy to append a postscript that a report has just been made, which we publish in its proper place, of a more encouraging state of things than was supposed.